London Exhibitions Guide 2022
They’re always making an exhibition of themselves.
And in London we’re lucky to have an amazing array of museums and art galleries staging an ever-evolving roster of retrospectives, new commissions and fascinating deep dives into the world of art, history, and sometimes both at the same time. Right now, you can check out the feminist performance art of Carolee Schneemann; the cutting edge of African fashion; some pottery advertising 17th century prostitutes; the squashed instruments of a 60-piece brass band, and more…
Of course, you can also see the permanent collections at most of these museums for free – take a look at our guide to the best museums in London, or for something a little different, the most unusual museums in London.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE:
William Kentridge | Royal Academy
After its barnstorming retrospective of Francis Bacon’s work earlier this year, the RA turns to another artist racked with passion and fury; this time directed at the cruelty and injustice inflicted under apartheid. Kentridge’s vast output over the last 40 years has spanned all kinds of artistic practice, from tapestry and etching to film-making and even opera, and it’s those last two that make up the showstopper main room of this powerful exhibition.
Details:William Kentridge is on at the RA until 11th December. Tickets cost £22-24.50, and can be booked HERE.
The New Black Vanguard | Saatchi Gallery
Daniel Obasi, Moments of Youth, Lagos, Nigeria, 2019, from The New Black Vanguard (Aperture, 2019). © Daniel Obasi
The New Black Vanguard celebrates the work of 15 pioneering Black photographers who are at the cutting edge of their field. And it’s frankly stunning, showing the magic that happens when representation is opened up not just in front of, but behind the lens…
Details:The New Black Vanguard is at the Saatchi Gallery until 22nd January 2023. Tickets cost £10 and can be booked HERE.
The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain | Somerset House
David Shrigley – I’m Dead, 2007. © David Shrigley
Modern politics is often described as one kind of show or another… but this new exhibition at Somerset House is focused on horror – that is, how artists have responded to themes and incidents in modern Britain (from the 2008 financial crash to the gradual atomisation of society) with creative rebellion. Expect taxidermied cats, heads made of cake, and more…
Details:The Horror Show! runs at Somerset House until 19th February 2023. Tickets cost £16.50; you can book here.
Think you know your ceramics? Well Strange Clay is about to shatter all those preconceptions. The Hayward Gallery’s latest show brings together 23 ceramicists who are taking the medium to creative extremes and imbuing it with new character. Forget thumb pots and vases: for these innovative artists, clay becomes a suitable material for sculpture, painting, even a kind of fresco. It’s literally putty in their hands.
Details: Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art is showing at the Hayward Gallery until 8th January 2023 (closed Mon & Tue). Tickets cost £15, and you can book here.
Cezanne | Tate Modern
“Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensations.” Paul Cezanne was amongst the first painters to actively try to paint what he felt rather than what he saw. And that made him a modern artist, which is why he’s got a new show at The Tate Modern. It’s a show dedicated to the majesty of everyday life, in which a simple apple or an orange can evoke feelings considerably more intense than any real fruit ought to be able to convey. “With an apple, I will astonish Paris” he said. And he did.
Details: Cezanne is on display at Tate Modern until 12th March 2023. Tickets cost £22, and can be booked HERE.
LuYang NetiNeti | Zabludowicz Collection
Mutlimedia artist LuYang grew up on a diet of anime, videogames and sci-fi, and now he’s pouring all of that neon-hued techno-culture into his first UK show. You’ll find it in Chalk Farm, and it involves a roomful of weirdly surreal games arcades, a giant yin yang, and some CGI avatars… but it’s more than that. The show explores the implications of identity that videogames have on the average player, who is now free to choose their own face, name, and even gander…
Details: LuYang NetiNeti is showing at the Zabludowicz Collection in Chalk Farm until 12 February 2023. Admission is completely free. You can find out more here.
Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination | Science Museum
The Science Museum just launched the most ambitious show in their long and storied history. So naturally, we went to take a look. And what we found was a long way off the old ‘stand around and stare at stuff’ type exhibition, and more like a ‘step aboard a spaceship’ type exhibition. You’ll get to see props from movies, and then see how those films inspired real-world scientific ideas, which then, in turn, inspired more inventive sci-fi…
Details: Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination is showing at The Science Museum until 24th May 2023. Adult tickets cost £20 and are available here.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum
Treefrog pool party by Brandon Güell
It seems like the last year was enough to cause the world’s wildlife photographers to snap. And the best of those snaps will be on show at the World Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. Now in its 58th year (!), the judges have trawled through tens of thousands of entries from 100+ countries before landing on the winning images, which will be displayed on special lightboxes (alongside dozens of runner-up shots) throughout the Natural History Museum’s gallery when the show opens this month…
Details: Wildlife Photographer of the Year is showing at The Natural History Museum until 2nd July 2023. Tickets are £17, and you can get them here.
Seeing Auschwitz | South Kensington
Seeing Auchwitz attempts to see the horrors of the world’s most infamous concentration camp from all perspectives – the victims, the perpetrators, and the liberators – via over 100 original images captured by all those involved. The idea is not only to gain some insight into the evil that was allowed to flourish there, but also into the utterly extraordinary humanity and resilience that shone through despite it all. It been co-curated by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and part of the revenue will go towards supporting them in turn.
Details: Seeing Auschwitz is currently on until 18th December, at a temporary space in South Kensington. Tickets start at £10 for adults, and can be purchased here.
Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature | V&A
Beatrix Potter was a skilled mycologist, a scientific illustrator, an ardent conservationist, and the reason that there’s a cocky CGI bunny voiced by James Corden on the side of every London bus. And you’ll find some of her wonderful work on display at the ’s latest retrospective…
Details: Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature runs at the V&A until 8th January 2023. Tickets cost £14, which you can book here.
Taking Care of Business | The Migration Museum
The Migration Museum’s latest exhibition shines a light on how migrant entrepreneurs have shaped the UK and created iconic brands and products, from Soreen fruit loaf to Morley’s chicken. They’ve recreated an entire high street inside, where you can hear the personal stories behind the household names. Don’t forget to exit through the gift shop – it takes the form of a pop-up marketplace for local businesses with migrant roots.
Details: Taking Care of Business runs at The Migration Museum in Lewisham for the near future. Admission isfree; just turn up.
Winslow Homer: Force of Nature | National Gallery
The National Gallery‘s retrospective of Winslow Homer aims to introduce English audiences to this great American artist. Working in the 19th century, he started out producing sketches for news outlets during the Civil War, but later turned to painting, largely self-taught, to depict the lives of Americans in the aftermath (there are particularly arresting scenes of freed enslaved people meeting with former owners). Accompanying these charged figurative paintings are roiling seas and forbidding cliffs – Homer’s odyssey is a fascinating one.
Details: Winslow Homer: Force of Nature runs at the National Gallery until 8th January 2023. Tickets cost £12 and can be booked HERE.
Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics | Barbican
This one’s a doozy: Schneemann was one of the most prolific, provocative and exciting performance artists of the 20th century, and this is the first major show of her work since she passed away in 2019. Featuring rare archive footage and over 200 exhibits, it’s a sprawling retrospective that shows just how many Big Topics she engaged with, from the objectification of women to the horrors of war.
Details:Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics runs at the Barbican until 8th January 2023. Tickets cost £18, and can be booked HERE.
Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today | The Design Museum
© Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí.
‘Keep it real’ would have been terrible advice for Salvador Dali.
But as the century’s most influential surrealist, the Design Museum are most certainly keeping it real, and including a great deal of his designs in their new exhibition on the mind-bending art movement. You’ll also see objects from the likes of classic artists including Dora Maar, Man Ray, and Lee Miller, all the way through to contemporary artists and designs, such as Schiaparelli, Dior, Björk.
Details: Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today runs at the Design Museum until 19th February 2023. Tickets cost £16.80 and area available here.
| Kew Gardens
To say Pip & Pop – a.k.a. award-winning Aussie artist Tanya Schultz – likes colour is an understatement. For the next ten months, she’s filling an exhibition space at Kew Gardens with her mind-meltingly psychedelic ‘fantasy food landscapes’, filled with rainbow hues, pompoms and glitter…
Details:Pip & Pop’s display is part of Food Forever at Kew Gardens, open until 5th March 2023. Entry is included with admission to Kew (£15), and you can book here.
M.K. Čiurlionis: Between Worlds | Dulwich Picture Gallery
Widely regarded as Lithuania’s greatest artist, Čiurlionis painted an insane number of ethereal images in his short career at the turn of the century, and many of them are on show here in the UK for the first time. Spanning mythology and reality, they’re regarded as major precursors to the European abstract movement.
Details:M. K. Čiurlionis is on show at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 12th March 2023. Tickets cost £16.50, and you can book HERE.
Weird Sensation Feels Good | Design Museum
It may help to imagine reading the following in a very breathy, intimate voice punctuated by chewing gum:The Design Museum is about to host an exhibition all about ASMR, with acoustic installations set up in a huge, comforting space. There’ll be contributions by classic ASMR creators like HairCut Harry, as well as big names like Björk, Bob Ross, and, er – Ikea.
Details: Weird Sensation Feels Good runs at the Design Museum until 10th April 2023. Tickets cost £10.50-12, and you can book HERE.
Maria Bartuszová | Tate Modern
The innovative Slovak artist revolutionised sculpture with her approach of hand-made plaster casting, using balloons to create natural-looking forms resembling nests, hives and bubbles. Which is lovely to look at – though people must have felt like walking on eggshells in her studio.
Details: Maria Bartuszová is on display at Tate Modern until 16th April 2023. Tickets cost £16, and can be booked HERE.
Africa Fashion| The V&A
Over at the V&A, it’s African fashion under the spotlight as photographs, designs and jaw-dropping garms go on display. Drawn from across the continent, they range from Moroccan avant-garde haute couture to century-old textiles and revived traditional dress, giving a whistlestop overview of the varied and wide-reaching influence on fashions around the world.
Details:Africa Fashion runs at the V&A until 16th April 2023. Tickets cost £16 and can be booked here.
Yinka Ilori: Parables For Happiness | Design Museum
Even if you’ve not seen his name attached to it, you’ve probably already seen Yinka Ilori’s art. The British-Nigerian artist has been responsible for injecting joy into all kinds of public spaces over the past few years – from street crossings and pavements to laundrettes made out of Lego – and this free display at the Design Museum explores why his bold, colourful style is so irresistible, and the process behind his work, with over 100 vibrant exhibits to check out.
Details:Yinka Ilori: Parables For Happiness is on display at the Design Museum until 25th June 2023. It’s free, just turn up.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave | V&A
This blockbuster exhibition attempts to condense some of the vast cultural output of South Korea from the last seven decades into one show, and explore why K-Pop, K-Beauty and K-dystopian TV series have such global appeal. And it does a pretty good job of such a colossal task, with outfits worn by BTS and costumes from Squid Game, high-fashion interpretations of the traditionalhanbok, dazzling sculptures, film clips, and more.
Details:Hallyu! The Korean Wave is on at the V&A until 25th June 2023. Tickets cost £20, and you can book HERE.
Like culture? Like being indoors?Check out our guide to the best films showing now.
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